AMPTP: Pay TV formula was never a benchmark

Studios return fire against SAG

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers says SAG is full of beans.

Even as the WGA meets with studio reps under cover of a press blackout — designed to prevent a daily exchange of vituperative critiques of the sessions — the studio organization Wednesday fired back at the previous day's blast of recent AMPTP negotiations by SAG.

SAG is under contract with the AMPTP until June 30. But on Tuesday, guild brass said they were concerned that terms of the DGA's recently announced tentative contract might be foisted on the WGA or SAG as a template for their next contracts (HR 1/30).

One specific criticism by SAG involved the formula for residuals on Internet downloads. The DGA contract would boost the formula beyond current terms for such content, which amount to the home video residuals formula as applied to downloads. But even the new terms wouldn't match the more lucrative pay TV residuals that the guilds had sought for downloads.

"The AMPTP took the position that the home video formula should apply to these releases (and) all three guilds filed grievances on this issue," the AMPTP recalled. "But the grievances were never pursued by the WGA or the other guilds. The bottom line is clear — the (pay TV formula) was never a benchmark of any kind. It was merely a demand that none of the guilds ever seriously pursued."

Leaders of the WGA met again Wednesday with top CEOs of Hollywood studios, discussing new-media terms and other issues related to their negotiations impasse. If those informal talks mark sufficient progress — and they've been ongoing since Jan. 21 — the parties will return to formal negotiations.

The DGA's tentative agreement, which resulted from that guild's separate talks with the AMPTP this month, has gone to membership for a ratification vote. DGA members have until Feb. 20 to vote on whether to approve the proposed new three-year agreement, which would go into effect when the current pact expires June 30.